When SMART Goals Make You Feel Dumb

SMART goals are results-focused ... all-or-nothing.  If you don't meet the target, you label yourself a failure for not being SMART enough.  What if we set PEACE goals instead?

I’m sure you’ve heard about SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound … or some slight variation.

SMART goals are a good thing. I’ve suggested them myself. And they work well for a lot of people.

But for others, and especially for sensitive, creative types, I’ve found that SMART goals can make you feel dumb. SMART goals are results-focused … all-or-nothing. If you don’t meet the target, you label yourself a failure for not being SMART enough.

What if we took a different approach to goals? What if we focused more on the process than the results? If we valued making progress towards the goal as much as crossing the finish line? What if we set PEACE goals?

Purposeful – Your goals should align with your deepest purpose. They should resonate with the core of your being. Consider these things when looking at purposeful goals:

  • Prayer – ask God what He would have you focus on in this season
  • Passion – what are you passionate about? As I was setting goals for my business this year, I realized that I love to talking to other women about their dreams and helping them make plans to reach them. To grow my business, I need to spend more time talking and less time optimizing my website or creating more products to sell. My passion will grow my business.
  • Powerful – what makes you fee empowered? Like you could take on the world and make a difference in someone’s life?
  • Positive – When it comes to habit-based goals, we tend to frame them in negative terms. Lose weight. stop spending money, quit wasting time. Let’s be more positive. Get more healthy, save for the future, spend my time more intentionally. Focus on what you will gain from your new habits, not what you are giving up.

Essential – As busy, multi-passionate women, we like keeping our fingers in many pies. We may want goals for home and family, work, personal development and ministry. But having our attention pulled in so many directions can dilute our efforts so that we don’t make progress on any front.

Prioritize your goals so that you are moving forward in the most important ways in the most important areas. Conquer the essential tasks and behaviors that may impact your life in multiple areas, rather than chasing obscure ideas with marginal influence.

Adjustable – I love this principle that I first heard taught by my friend Esther Littlefield on the Christian Woman Leadership Podcast. Rather than setting a single goal, think of “Good, Better, Best” versions of your goal.

  • Good – the minimum that would be “good enough” for you
  • Better – the target that would satisfy you and feel like an accomplishment
  • Best – a stretch level that would be better than you could imagine

Plan and work to reach the Best goal, but if you only reach the Good, you can still celebrate and value your progress.

Current – We should all have an eye on our long-range goals. They help us prepare for our future. But we also need goals that impact our present. We can break down our long range goals into the smaller steps we’ll take now to get there.

I heard Dave Ramsey explain it like this. What do I want to be in 10 years? What do I need to do today to be what I want to be in 10 years? What will my 10-years-from-now self be angry at me for not doing now? Let’s work towards goals that are impactful today and important for tomorrow.

Enjoyable – How do you feel when you think about your goals? Are you motivated and encouraged? Or dreading the worthy work it will take to get there?

All dreams and goals take work and sacrifice. Are you willing to do what it takes? Will they make a positivie impact on your life? Or will they be more costly than your marriage, family or mental health can stand? Will they edify you and your family? Or tear you down

Depending on your season, you may need to right-size your goals so they don’t become too much of a burden.

Pursuing PEACE goals will keep your actions in line with your principles and use your limited time and resources to make progress where you can. You’ll be actively engaged in the most important areas of your life and advancing the causes you care about.

Now that’s what i call SMART.


Grab this free PEACE goals planner! Develop goals that value the process and progress.



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4 thoughts on “When SMART Goals Make You Feel Dumb”

  1. Grateful for you dear friend. I love this statement, “Prayer – ask God what He would have you focus on in this season.”

  2. I really appreciate this blog, Christa. As a former elementary school teacher, I am reminded of a motto of mine, “always encourage, never discourage.” That motto needs to be applied to our relationships with adults as well. Especially ourselves!

  3. I am so grateful for this blog on PEACE goals. I was one of those who felt dumb about smart goals. This process speaks to my heart. Thanks Christa

  4. Great tips! Thanks for helping me to be realistic and think beyond the box. I love how your guidance unlocks the issues we have as Christian women. Thank you!


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